Corporate social responsibility used to be a buzz word, and then it became a trend. Now, organizations are realizing that it can yield hard and soft benefits for the organization. Often, the supply chain is at the center of these efforts, and high-tech companies are leading the charge.
Global distributors Avnet and Arrow, and electronics OEMs Apple and Cisco, for example, are often cited for strong efforts in terms of good corporate citizenship. The hallmarks of these corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs include community engagement, environmental stewardship, and clear ethics and governance standards. And, in the best moments, these values spread through the suppliers and partners involved with CSR leaders. Best of all, it has great returns for the business, new research found.
CSR programs improve organizations in terms of improved employee morale, networking, reputation-building, brand awareness, and recruiting and retention. In fact, in a recent survey if 2,200 chief financial officers (CFOs), four out of five reported that social responsibility is important to their firms, Robert Half Management Resources found. (The infographic below highlights survey results.)
“People want to support and work for companies that help their communities,” said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “Successful businesses make philanthropy a part of their corporate culture. This often includes giving staff time and resources to dedicate to charitable and community activities.”
To make these programs valuable, organizations need to find the suite spot between the interest of the business and the interests of the greater community. More importantly, it has to be genuine. “Find organizations or causes that align with your business values, and offer support beyond money, such as donating products and encouraging employees to share their expertise,” Hird said.
To get good traction, organizations should follow a few simple guidelines.
- Get employees involved in creating the program. Choose organizations and causes that matter to them, Robert Half suggested. And give staff time off to participate in philanthropic activities.
- Concentrate CSSR efforts. Work to focus on opportunities that benefit for both business and society, McKinsey & Co. suggested. “These are areas where the business not only can gain a deeper understanding of the mutual dependencies but also in which the highest potential for mutual benefit exists,” the consultants firm said.
- Understand the benefits fully. You need to understand the potential benefits from both a business and societal perspective, which can take work.
- Identify and cultivate partnerships. Supply chain organizations may be most adept at these efforts. “Partnering is difficult, but when both sides see win–win potential there is greater motivation to realize the substantial benefits,” McKinsey said. “Relationships—particularly long-term ones that are built on a realistic understanding of the true strengths on both sides—have a greater opportunity of being successful and sustainable.”
- Create a clear equation for the project. Organizations should clearly define a timeframe for efforts (both short and long term), some tangible way to measure the potential benefits, and an understanding of how the resulting benefits will be shared (by the business, its partners, and greater society).
How does your company handle social responsibility? What benefits have you seen? Let us know in the comments section below.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN